Analyse & Kritik
Journal of Philosophy and Social Theory
Ed. by Baurmann, Michael / Leist, Anton / Tranow, Ulf
Aging and Neuroeconomics: Insights from Research on Neuromodulation of Reward-based Decision Making
‘Neuroeconomics’ can be broadly defined as the research of how the brain interacts with the environment to make decisions that are functional given individual and contextual constraints. Deciphering such brain-environment transactions requires mechanistic understandings of the neurobiological processes that implement value-dependent decision making. To this end, a common empirical approach is to investigate neural mechanisms of reward-based decision making. Flexible updating of choices and associated expected outcomes in ways that are adaptive for a given task (or a given set of tasks) at hand relies on dynamic neurochemical tuning of the brain’s functional circuitries involved in the representation of tasks, goals and reward prediction. Empirical evidence as well as computational theories indicate that various neurotransmitter systems (e.g., dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin) play important roles in reward-based decision making. In light of the apparent aging-related decline in various aspects of the dopaminergic system as well as the effects of neuromodulation on reward-related processes, this article focuses selectively on the literature that highlights the triadic relations between dopaminergic modulation, reward-based decision making, and aging. Directions for future research on aging and neuroeconomoics are discussed.
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